Rookie Stieger in front at NSW PGA

Rookie professional Matt Stieger fired a 5-under, 67, to enjoy a one stroke lead at 10-under-par from Sweden’s Thomas Petersson at the NSW PGA Championships at Mt Broughton in the NSW Southern Highlands .

With an opening round of another 67, Stieger is producing the needed form as he attempts to gain an automatic exemption into next week’s Australian Open should he take the trophy on Sunday.

Matt Stieger Matt Stieger (Credit: Anthony Powter)

“I have had some good results at this course,” said Stieger, 21.

“I won the Champions trophy back in 2009 playing here. It’s one of my favourite courses. I’m putting well and holed out for eagle on the first which helps. But if you hit a bad tee shot here you’re straight in the grass and you have to tee it up again, so you have to play smart on every hole.”

Stieger turned professional immediately following representing Australia at the Eisenhower Trophy in Turkey back in October and has made six from six cuts in professional events so far on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

It is somewhat perplexing why Stieger has not been offered a start in next week’s Australian Open, despite being the 2011 Australian Amateur champion and his recent fine performances in the professional ranks.

Yet, Stieger says his experience has been nothing but positive since moving on from the amateur status and the associated political strings he was attached to.

“I’m loving it,” he says.

“It makes all the hard work worthwhile and it’s good to get out here and mix it with the big boys.”

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox shares 3rd position with Adam Stephens, Pieter Zwart, Kris Mueck and Anthony Summers who share 3rd position at 7-under-par.

Overnight leader Jake Higginbottom had a difficult day, shooting a round of 1-over to share 8th position with Anthony Brown. Kyle Grant, Deyen Lawson and amateur Callan O’Reily.